Seamus Plunkett's reign as Laois senior hurling manager didn't get off to the start he would have liked as UCD left Rathdowney with a one-point win.
Noel McGrath inspired the students with an impressive 0-11 haul and their more polished side ultimately had too much for Laois. McGrath put UCD ahead early on with a brace of frees, before Laois finally settled thanks to a point from a sideline cut by Shane Hanlon.
The scores then flowed for Laois and within ten minutes they had moved into the lead, 0-4 to 0-3, with points from Stephen Maher and Gearoid Burke. UCD hit back and the sides remained level until Maher finished a wonderful Laois move to the net.
Laois led at half-time 1-8 to 0-8, but UCD wiped out that lead with points from Noel McGrath (two) and Jack Guiney to put them back in the race. Further points from McGrath and Conor Allis had Laois under pressure.
Laois, only back training in recent weeks, showed signs of a team lacking a good pre-season, as they ran out of steam in the final quarter. UCD never really put the game beyond them, but Laois just couldn't manufacture the scores they needed to grind out a result and Nicky English's team held on to set up a clash with Dublin this weekend.
SCORERS – UCD: N McGrath 0-11 (4f, 1 '65'), C Allis 0-2; M Brennan, J Guiney 0-1 each. Laois: S Maher 1-6 (5f, 1 '65'); G Burke (1f), S Hanlon (sideline), J Fitzpatrick, W Dunphy, PJ Scully 0-1 each.
LAOIS – D Hanlon; B Stapleton, D Maher, W Young; JA Delaney, G Burke, C Healy; J Walsh, J Fitzpatrick; S Hanlon, A Collier, S Maher; D King, T Fitzgerald, W Dunphy. Subs: B Campion for Stapleton (h-t), C Dunne for Walsh (h-t), B Conroy for King (49), PJ Scully for Dunphy (49), S Bourke for S Hanlon (69).
UCD – B Murphy; J Dougan, R O'Carroll, J Gannon; W Phelan, J Tennyson, S Norton; O Gough, B O'Connell; G Sinnott, C Allis, D Fox; M Brennan, J Guiney, N McGrath. Subs: C Kenny for Norton (48), K O'Loughlin for Fox (54), J Gilligan for Sinnott (64), M McCaffrey for O'Carroll (58).
REF – M Flynn (Kilkenny).